Training For Men Over 40 | Why & How You Should Train
Most men are scared of aging but if you do the right things, you won’t “get older” but you’ll rather age well like fine wine. Naturally, as men age, testosterone levels go down and that leads to a change in the mental and physical state.
In this article, we’ll reveal the benefits of training into your older years and tell you exactly how you can approach this, in order to reap long-lasting benefits.
Why You SHOULD Train In Your Older Years
“I don’t train, I’m already old and the results are way slower than they would if I had started young…”. This is one of the most common excuses you hear from men over 40, which they use to justify the lack of movement in their life. Well, though this is a common belief, the fact of the matter is that while the response may not be as prominent, training is still a good stimulus regardless of age.
Whether you’re 15, 25, or 40+, including certain types of training in your lifestyle, will increase your health and improve the overall quality of life. More specifically, strength training has been proven to be a good anti-aging tool, which helps maintain normal testosterone levels. So again – You’re helping your body as time goes by and by maintaining it, you bring a healthy, functional, good-looking body into your older years.
What Training Should You Do?
When it comes to training, it is a fact that exercise relies on principles, which makes the end result predictable. There are different types of training which in turn, bring different end results, so let’s analyze the most common types of training you can take on.
The goal of training is to usually get the best out of it, whether we’re talking about how you look, perform or feel. After 40, it is likely that you won’t be after a competitive sports career, so naturally, you’d be more inclined to do training that focuses on overall development and wellbeing.
Strength training is the type of training you should focus on if your goal is to:
- Improve strength
- Look better
- Feel better
- Optimize testosterone production
- Be more athletic overall
As we already mentioned, strength training is literally the fountain of youth for men over 40. This is due to the fact that this type of training causes a strong anabolic (constructive) response in the body, making it a nourishing activity for practically your entire body and mood. With strength training, you will observe improvements in strength & strength endurance, muscular tone, overall mood, sex drive, and overall athleticism.
As an adult man, this is the type of training you should primarily focus on.
Low-intensity, prolonged sessions are referred to as “cardio” and are the type of activity that most often comes to mind when you think of “training”. This type of training has its benefits, which are primarily expressed in the increased efficiency of your heart & lungs.
Cardio training is the type of training you should go for if you’re looking to:
- Increase endurance
- Improve heart & lung health and function
- Burn some extra calories
- Be healthier overall
The thing about prolonged cardio is that it causes the release of cortisol, which in turn may lower testosterone levels.
This is why it is recommended to do some cardio but not too much and instead, focus most of your energy on your strength training sessions. Cardio is optimally done after strength training, for 20-40 minutes at a moderate pace. Including regular cardio in your routine may improve muscle tone, overall health & mood.
Frequently Asked Questions
What we said above is very generic and it just displays the benefits of different types of training you can do. Now let’s get a little more specific and dig into the details which can help you set up a training plan.
#1 What type of strength exercises should I do?
The goal with strength training is to create a stimulus that is as prominent as possible. Compound exercises that involve more than 1 joint and muscle group at a time, are your best choice, whether you’re a young or adult male. These are exercises like squats, deadlifts, bench presses, overhead presses, pull-ups, dips and other dumbbell, barbell & kettlebell exercises.
Such movements will allow you to lift significantly heavier weights, due to the greater amount of muscle fibers engaged. This will therefore create a greater stimulus & biological response but then again, you shouldn’t lift too heavy, as you want to sustain this performance and avoid injury.
#2 How many sets and reps should I do?
The question of sets and reps is controversial and you can easily get misinformed but the fact of the matter is that the number of sets and reps depends on the goal you want to achieve. You want to increase your maximal strength? Focus on 1-5 reps (powerlifting range) You want to create the most visually appealing physique? Focus on 5-15 reps (bodybuilding range).
Ultimately, your best bet would be to combine both the powerlifting & bodybuilding range, as that will allow you to stimulate the muscles across all their properties (strength, strength endurance, explosiveness, etc.) As to the number of sets, it is generally best to start off at 5+ working sets per muscle group per week (as a beginner) and increase that number as you progress, up to 10-20+ challenging sets.
#3 How often should I train?
When you workout, you do micro damage to your muscles and so, you need to carefully manage your recovery between workouts, in order to perform at your best from workout to workout. Generally for strength training, optimal recovery comes around the 48th-96th hour after training.
Basically, you should train each muscle group again, when it is at its peak recovery state (48th-96th hr after a workout). Think of it this way – Since your performance declines after a certain point in your workout, it is best to do 2 workouts with 5 working sets, rather than 1 workout with 10 sets.
Why? Because it would realize a greater total working volume (total amount of weight lifted) and thus, create a more powerful stimulus for the body.
#4 What type of cardio training should I do?
Cardio is a great tool to use for recovery, unwinding and relaxation when you’re not in the gym lifting weights. This type of training implies a low-intensity, prolonged training session and there are MANY such activities. We’d advise you to avoid limiting your cardio to just the treadmill.
Instead, do some running outside, ride your bicycle, do some swimming, some rope jumping or even some quick walking. These activities are best done after strength training or on your off days. If your goals primarily resonate with what strength training provides as an end result, you shouldn’t do too much cardio, as it may rob you of the energy for your strength workouts.
#5 How often should I do cardio?
The last sentence of point number 4 brings us to this question but the thing is… There is no definitive answer. But we can say this for sure – If you are primarily looking for increases in strength, strength endurance, muscular tone & testosterone production, overdoing cardio can be suboptimal.
We’d generally recommend doing 2-4 cardio sessions per week, lasting ~40 minutes. These are done after your strength workouts, or on days when you don’t go to the gym. We are not completely signing cardio off, as it is highly beneficial for the heart, lungs and your overall health. It can even be used as a great tool to recover from strength workouts.
All we’re saying is – If you do a lot of cardio, make sure you’re also eating more nutrient-rich, whole foods that provide all nutrients to the body.
You’ll need that energy!
As men age, testosterone levels naturally decline and so, training can be used as a tool to mitigate the effects of getting older and help you age like fine wine. If you’re an adult male, you should primarily focus on strength training, taking on compound, heavy exercises that engage more muscles at once.
The exertion should be moderately high and hard failure must not be reached too often, as that may increase the chance of injury or physical burnout. Ultimately, you should be looking to mix strength & cardio training, along with recovery practices like stretching & massages. Think of it as using the body every day and doing some activity regularly, even if it’s for 15-30 minutes only.
Movement is energy and so, if you want an optimally-functioning body as an adult, you should do your best to keep your body active & healthy, through training and nutrition.